With online video consumption increasing given the country-wide stay-at-home orders, McAfee researched the risks U.S. consumers could potentially be exposed to when browsing the web for popular online entertainment content to watch, with a focus on attempts to access today’s popular content for free.
“With consumers increasingly going online to stay entertained during lockdowns it has created the perfect storm for web crime,” says Baker Nanduru, VP of Consumer Endpoint Segment at McAfee. “History has proven that cyber criminals follow consumer trends and behaviors to educate their scam strategies. It’s important that consumers stay alert while online and avoid malicious websites that may install malware or steal personal information and passwords.”
From an analysis of more than one hundred most talked about entertainment titles available across today’s leading streaming providers, McAfee identified a “top 10 web risk list” for both television and film. Ranked in order of web search risk (from highest to lowest) as identified by McAfee’s Web Advisor platform, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Warrior took the top place in their respective categories.
Top 10 Web Risk List: Television – U.S.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Top 10 Web Risk List: Movies – U.S.
- The Incredibles
- Step Brothers
- Bad Boys
- Aladdin (2019)
- The Lion King (1994)
- Frozen 2
- The Invitation
Most Targeted Movie Genre- Children’s Films: With children home from school and parents balancing work and childcare, it may come as little surprise that children’s movies account for 4 of the top 10 movies McAfee identified as a high risk of being targeted by cyber criminal activity. With cyber criminals regularly tracking changes in social trends like school closures, parents need to be extra vigilant when it comes to searching online for content for their children to watch.
Most Targeted TV Shows- Original TV Series: Of the top 10 TV shows most associated with suspicious web results, McAfee found that half were original series produced by streaming networks. With subscription competition intensifying, streaming providers have increased their investment in original content to attract and retain new customers. This finding suggests that the popularity and exclusivity of original content may drive consumers to search for free access to specific content that they aren’t currently subscribed to.
Here’s McAfee’s Top Tips to Stay Safe Online this Watching Season:
- Be careful what you click. Users looking to catch up on season 2 of You, or a way to have The Incredibles on repeat should be cautious and only access entertainment content directly from a reliable source. The safest thing to do is to subscribe to a streaming site that offers the content or download the movie from sources like iTunes or Amazon, instead of downloading a “free” version from a website that could contain malware.
- Refrain from using illegal streaming sites. Many illegal streaming sites are riddled with malware disguised as pirated video files. Do your device a favor and stream the show from a reputable source.
- Protect your online realm with a cybersecurity solution. Send your regards to malicious actors with a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection. This can help protect you from malware, phishing attacks, and other threats. It also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which helps alert users of malicious websites.
- Use parental control software. Kids are tech savvy and may search for movies by themselves. Ensure that limits are set on your child’s device and use software that can help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.
For More Information:
To learn more about the study, check out:
- Blog post from Baker Nanduru
- Twitter: Follow @McAfee_Home for online safety tips, and use the hashtag #SuspiciousShows to discuss the Most Targeted Entertainment of 2020
- Local lists broken down by country are available upon request
McAfee pulled the most popular TV and movie titles available on US streaming sites according to “best of” articles by a range of US publications. The company analyzed web results for searches of the entertainment titles with modifying terms (e.g. TV show + torrent). “Most targeted” refers to the number of high-risk websites associated with these entertainment titles.
Search terms used this year:
- Free download
- Free login
- Pirated download
Using McAfee WebAdvisor data, resulting domains and URLs were measured and assigned a risk of “high,” “medium” and “unverified.” URLs were then given a score between negative 127 and positive 127 with higher scores indicating a riskier website.
- The score was calculated using the following formula: Danger = 1*(high count) + 0.5*(medium count) + 0.125*(unverified count)